After emceeing a large number of fashion shows over the past three decades, I must admit I have a few favorites, and the annual Divas on a Dime might top the list. Not many fashion shows leave you inspired.
The models have never modeled before and the clothes are not designer items. The models are amazing women. The fashions are all from Goodwill.
This was the third Divas on a Dime event, and it was a packed house in the Kansas Newman Conference Center on March 25. It was a benefit for WIN, Women’s Initiative Network, a program started in 1997. Every one of the dozen women who modeled had an interesting but sad story. And each said they wouldn’t be improving their lives daily without the help of WIN.
The nonprofit organization’s mission is to work with other nonprofit organizations to provide survivors of abuse with educational and employment opportunities and to foster healing and self-sufficiency. Audience members applauded the women who are working to complete their education, be good mothers, secure employment while feeling safe and secure in the WIN program.
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Lasheika Loudermilk says WIN gave her a fresh start. “They push you to be your best. And they don’t judge you,” she said.
Several of these women explained when they finally got out of an abusive relationship, they had the lowest of low self esteem and no confidence in their abilities. In most cases, the bravery it took to leave a bad situation came from wanting to get their children into a better living situation.
Leigh Simpson says in the WIN program she has accomplished things “she had never even thought of. We are all connected and they inspire me.”
As they modeled, the audience heard a very brief history of each woman and what she has accomplished. Seeing the smiles on the nervous but happy models was the best part.
A favorite quote of the day came from Tanya Robinson who says she didn’t think she would have the courage to start over in a new city, make a new life, improve herself and to eventually “make it.”
“Since being at WIN, I have learned to believe in myself and smile while I still have teeth.”
Good advice for all of us.